The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, by Margaret MacMillan. Toronto, Allen Lane, 2013. xxv, 677 pp. $38.00 US (cloth). 1914: Fight the Good Fight: Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War, by Allan Mallinson. Toronto, Bantam Press, 2013. xxiv, 503 pp. $59.95 US (cloth), $26.95 US (paper). The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, by Christopher Clark. New York, Harper Collins, 2012. xxxi, 697 pp. $29.99 US (cloth). July 1914: Countdown to War, by Sean McMeekin. New York, Basic Books, 2013. xviii, 461 pp. $34.50 US (cloth). Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914, by Max Hastings. London, William Collins, 2013. xxvi, 628 pp. $49.99 US (cloth). There can be few historical commemorations more significant than the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War in August, 1914. The Great War, as it became known, is widely perceived as a watershed in world history. For E.J. Hobsbawm, it marked the beginning of an Age of Catastrophe (1) which witnessed the shattering of Europe by two world wars and prepared the way for the subsequent collapse of Europe's imperial domination of the globe. Before 1914, liberal values and belief in scientific progress, nurtured by a hundred years of relative peace, sustained the self-assurance of a civilization that could take its superiority for granted. The years immediately following 1914 changed all that. The unprecedented wartime experiences of mass, industrialized killing, economic regulation and the intensive mobilization and militarization of society undermined pre-war certainties. The unleashing of religious, nationalist, and ethnic hatreds combined with the modern, industrialized means of warfare to produce a more total form of war. With the massacre of up to a million Armenians in 1915, mass killing reached a genocidal extreme. (2) The military and political collapse of four great empires provided a field of action for new, extremist political forces, most notably fascism and communism. The global balance of power shifted. Subject races and dominions, having answered the calls to arms of their European masters, reversed the established pattern of colonial dependency. (3) The consequences of the war reach down to the present day. Indeed, the conflict that began in 1914 defined how we think about war itself. The commemoration of the centenary of the Great War has not been without controversy. In Britain, in particular, where the government has committed fifty million pounds to a program of education and remembrance focused on the British experience of the war, debate over the shape of this program has revealed a public that is deeply divided. One side seeks to frame the war as a necessary and hard-won fight against militarism. Its opponents propose to remember both a futile slaughter as well as those whom they regard as its unacknowledged victims: conscientious objectors and soldiers executed for dereliction of duty. Both sides tend to see themselves as embattled minorities. The controversy itself is a reminder that public memories of the war--and many histories, despite important recent work that is trans-national in approach--remain particular to individual nations. Each nation has its own ways of remembering the war. In some--notably Russia and the United States--the perception of other events as either more important or less divisive (the 1917 Revolution for Russia, the Second World War for the United States), has eclipsed its memory. In others--Canada and Australia--its memory is intimately bound up with the foundational myths of nationhood. For Germany, as for Britain, the memory of the war is more complicated. Beginning in the 1960s, the work of Fritz Fischer and his followers, which aimed to show the continuity in Germany's expansionist ambitions from the First World War to the Second, has challenged the view that the victors at Versailles in 1919 unfairly saddled Germany with responsibility for the war. …

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